Tag Archives: birds

Craigleith and Bass Rock: a wonder of birds

Bass Rock is now the world’s largest colony of Northern Gannets, and along with neighbour Craigleith, is also home also to cormorants, kittiwakes, shags, guillemots, razorbills and, of course, PUFFINS (I saw puffins!).

Like everyone else, I adore puffins.

From afar I saw puffins. They are so small! So wonderful! So hard to see! Flecks of white floating in the firth between the boat and the island, because my camera has no zoom:

Craigleith

The head of a curious seal was also visible, just one, another bright shape watching us from Craigleith’s shadows where stone meets water.

Craigleith

Craigleith with the great white mass of Bass Rock beyond it.

Craigleith

Amazing sight that it is. (Also, I saw puffins!)

Bass Rock

Northern gannets are beautiful things, spending time here between March and about October.

Bass Rock

They mate for life, and return year after year to the same patch of rock to mate and raise their young. They are intensely territorial while here, but after leaving Bass rock they will head to Africa. Seeing a natural wonder of the world and birds who migrate from Africa to the UK and back again right above all stupid human borders doesn’t make the world any easier to bear right now, but, you know, it shows there are other ways to do things. Spending time with my little brother was also pretty awesome.

Pettex_Northern_gannet_breeding-migration_world_450

More views of gannet-strewn rocks and crevices — I somehow didn’t get any of the guillemots, who I also love.

Bass Rock

Tantallon castle’s ruins lie quite spectacular in the distance, but nothing compared to this.

Bass Rock

The cliffs themselves, wondrous.

Bass Rock

Rounding them, there are caves along the other side:

Bass Rock

up to the lighthouse, and the castle-become-prison for Covenanters and Jacobites with an old hermitage somewhere there as well.

Bass Rock

Bass Rock

The lighthouse on Bass Rock was built by the Stevenson family who were lighthouse engineers — the family, in fact, of Robert Louis Stevenson, who also trained as a lighthouse engineer. It features in his novel Catriona, and an island just down the coast from here (visible from the boat in fact) is supposedly the inspiration for Treasure Island.

A last cormorant from the shore, I still love them too…

Bass Rock

A last view of this wondrous place from North Berwick — itself a beautiful little town.

Bass Rock

 

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I saw puffins! Tristram and I had quite a lovely day, which also included Dirleton Castle, but I’ll write about that later I think.

Sunday we had a traditional Scottish barbecue with Laura’s family — in the pouring rain with our brollies and sandals, and for a little while there I also though Ireland might progress to the final eight, but sadly that first goal was not repeated. Good games today though, and good to see family I’ve not seen in ages. We even watched an hour on the Royal Highland Show — a procession of bulls, cows, sheep and coats moved across my screen in a strange recap of the past two months that has transformed how I watch such things.

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Flight

Is an extraordinary thing. And to think about what it took for a single celled amoeba to transform over an unimaginable span of years into a being perfectly adapted to beat it’s wings and soar into the air … even more extraordinary. It is so much more impressive than walking or crawling or even pronking. I am in awe of it. This ability to fly turns even the most unlikable of all birds into something of grace and power

Wings mirror imaged and beautiful. Even a gull.

The way all of the feathers and muscles and bones work together to creat lift, break, turn. I took this next picture a couple of months ago in Arizona, a small hawk in the front yard

It’s amazing the way that each have adapted differently, the one for the ocean, for landing on water, for scavenging. The other for riding hot desert thermals, for soaring on winds without beating its wings, for lightening plummets to the ground and the power to break, scoop up its prey.

And then there are ducks. They also fly of course, but are much more amusing on the ground. Or in the water.

Practically running through the water in fact. And what extraordinary feet the American Coot has! They aren’t webbed, they look like blue green algea almost, and I tried to get a good picture but I failed.

I went paddle-boating on Echo Park today and the sun was shining and the sky was blue. Though it did turn a bit grey at the end.  After boating we walked to get some food, the park was full of families, and vendors of tacos and pupusas and carne asada and ice cream and chicharrones and elotes.

We started with elotes.

Roasted corn, y con todo? Lemon, salt, mayo, parmesan, butter and chile. A lot of chile if you ask for extra

Happiness on a stick really. And I hadn’t eaten anything all day, so we got pupusas after. As we were sitting eating we witnessed another sense of flight.

The human kind that happens when the pinche cops come along.

They inched down the road, giving that short siren burst of warning. Street vendors are unwelcome here. Surviving is important to them however, and so they chance it every weekend. They are always five minutes from a clean get away. And so the scene of community transformed. In five minutes all carts were packed up, and there were no more pupusas, elotes, carne asada, tacos, or ice cream. The tianguis spread along the side walks? Toys and pirated dvds and used clothes and a xylophone you paid to play and…all things nice. All gone.

They only left the evangelicals, screaming into their microphone, singing to synthesizer beats about the way Jesus colored in the lines of the world, and how we all needed to be saved.

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